People have been 'inspired' by other people's music ever since human beings first started making beats by bashing skulls with bones. But the art of actually lifting another person's recorded work and using it in your own has only been with us since the dawn of recorded tape and, really, from when digital sampling made it all too easy and cheap to lift other people's riffs and beats during the 1980s and 90s.
In this series, we're exploring some of the most highly-sampled bands and the good, bad and sometimes ugly results that came from those who sampled them. And we'll start with none other than Pink Floyd, probably the greatest – and most sampled – band of all time.
If ever there was a song that opened itself up to sampling it's Money. This track opens up the second half of the album The Dark Side Of The Moon with one of the most recognisable – and sample-able – sets of sound effects ever recorded.
The rhythmic loop of cash registers and clattering coins was created in Roger Waters' shed with actual coins, although WhoSampled.com suggests that Floyd also lifted the cash register part of this intro themselves, using one of the old vinyl sound effects records that were popular in the 1960s and 70s (are we showing our age by admitting that we owned a couple of these?).
Floyd apparently used the cash register sound from the end of this clip at around 29 minutes in.
The end result of coins, cash registers, paper and more created a rhythm that led into the bass, that led into the drums that led into… Ok, here's the track.
That opening section is certainly ripe for sampling and Money has therefore become one of – but not the – most sampled Floyd songs. Among those who have sampled it include the following, and not always with the greatest results.
Grammy-nominated producer and DJ Danny Tenaglia has remixed everyone from Depeche Mode to Madonna. His track $ That's What I Want not only borrows the famous Pink Floyd Money sample but also the lyrics from the original song Money (That's What I want), recorded by Barrett Strong Jr. and then covered by The Beatles and Flying Lizards. It's like he didn't want to make any 'money' himself from it…
The 1989 Geto Boys track Let A Ho Be A Ho borrows more of the original bass from Money to underpin this track from their album Grip It on That Other Level. We should warn you that some of the lyrics are offensive, although the actual sampling is done rather well.
Milli Vanilli were famously no strangers to controversy with huge question marks over whether they actually sang hits that included Girl You Know It's True, Blame It on the Rain, and Girl I'm Gonna Miss You.
Less well knows was this 1989 track, Money, which obviously lifts the Floyd cash register throughout a track that veers between 80s cheese and Beastie Boys pastiche – and a track they might have been happy to have been found NOT to have sung on.
Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)
While Money might be the most obvious Floyd song to sample, 1979's Another Brick in the Wall (part 2) takes the accolade for the band's most sampled song according to WhoSampled.com.
This classic Pink Floyd track was released at a time when pretty much any style of music or weird and wonderful track could be a chart hit, yet it, and its slightly terrifying video, still seemed at odds with just about everything else at the time, although fitted in well with the bleak and scary world of the late 1970s. Time for a 2023 update? It's probably on the way…
Where the track Money seems to have attracted more samplists from the hip hop community, Another Brick in the Wall has drawn in more EDM producers. This track from Eric Prydz is one that samples so much from the original that it is effectively a remix, or even a cover version, so is notably credited as Eric Prydz VS Pink Floyd.
Dirty Vegas were the turn of the century band with a difference, promising to be that rare thing in music – a band that bridged the gap between dance and guitar music.
Best Known for the track Days Go By, they also remixed Madonna and Justin Timberlake and have written for many other artists, not to mention having songs in several high profile TV shows including The O.C. and One Tree Hill.
The band's track Simple Things, Pt. 2 appeared on their self-titled debut album and is notable in our list as being the first to feature an 'interpolation' sample, that is one recreated with other instruments. In this case it's simpler than that sounds – it's basically the famous 'we don't need no education' line re-sung, and to our ears, not really a necessary inclusion in an already fine track. Check it out at 4:30.
Salt-N-Pepa feat. Rufus Blaq's The Brick Track Versus Gitty Up – trying saying that after a gin or two – is just one of a few remixes of Salt-N-Pepa's original Gitty Up to feature large chunk's of various Another Brick in the Wall samples. It might well have been following the trend of that decade where entire melody lines were lifted and rapped over – see Puff Daddy feat. Faith Evans' I'll Be Missing You, a 1997 track that similarly uses chunks from Every Breath You Take as its base.
It's a great example of sampling taking a ridiculously famous song – or part of a song – in a completely new direction while also somehow keeping what made it great in the first place intact (although we could probably do without the now somewhat overused and overheard 'Say What' sample).
Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)
If there's a theme emerging from this feature – and we think there is, although we're biased – it's that each Pink Floyd track seems to attract different genres, types and generations of samplists.
In the case of 1975's Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V) from the album Wish You Were Here, it seems that many big-named 1990s dance acts wanted a slice of the Floyd action. This could be because that by this time, sampling had become way more accessible to many more producers and Pink Floyd were obvious targets. They had lengthy songs and lots of instrumentals – easy targets for samplists.
That all said, it's the guitar part in Shine on You Crazy Diamond that caused most people to press the record button. Here are the original parts 1-V of Shine on You Crazy Diamond. Get the kettle on – there's 13 minutes of it.
First up in our Shine on samplists, The Orb in the 1990s were very much an updated Pink Floyd for that decade. Lengthy, immersive tracks, lots of cool audio trickery and lots of deep meanings.
The 1990 (recorded in 1989) track A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld almost demanded other people's samples – in fact we're pretty sure that, given its name and 20+ minute run time, it pretty much recorded other people's work on its own.
There are several samples in it (probably several hundred) but the Floyd Shine on You Crazy Diamond sample appears at just over four minutes in. Coincidentally that's almost at exactly the same point where the guitar line appears in the original track.
We saw The Orb play this track live in the 1990s once and are pretty sure they stretched it out to more than three hours.
While we're in our 1990s time machine, let's skip forward to the 1992 Stereo MCs track Connected as remixed by Future Sound Of London. Like The Orb, FSOL were part of the 'intelligent dance' and 90s ambient scene which basically meant that they had more synths than you and I and knew how to use them – or did they? As we'll see, this particular sample might not have been required…
Unusually this remix of Connected doesn't go for the obvious guitar sample – which we think you might be able to hear a distorted version of at around 1:30 – but lifts a synth or string chord from the original song instead (from around three and a half minutes in). The sample has been pitched down and used in the Connected remix at around 50 seconds. We're pretty sure that many a 90s synth could have done that without sampling but we're prepared to be corrected…
Finally to a good old fashioned slice of 1990s hardcore and breakbeat. Metalheadz (before the 's' became a 'z') comprised Goldie and Rob Playford, both huge fans of sampling and at this point big players in the burgeoning jungle scene, although this particular track is more hardcore and breakbeat – so that bit slower.
That Pink Floyd sample – and it's the guitar again – comes in at the three minute mark. The track itself is stuffed with other samples too and a single break carries the whole thing. Ah, simpler times.
Other famous Floyd samples
We've picked some of the more interesting and wide ranging artists to have sampled Pink Floyd over the last few decades, but of course there are many more. Here are just a few of the higher profile ones to have lifted the odd Floyd sound and riff.
According to WhoSampled.com a clock sample from Time by Pink Floyd appears at around 48 seconds in the track Wake Up Call by The Prodigy.
And a similar sample from the same song is used in Cypress Hill's 16 Men Till There's No Men Left (16 seconds in).
The clue is in the name here as Aphex Twin put his samples on the table with the track 20 Pink Floyd which used a sample from the band's The Great Gig in the Sky at the start.
And finally, from the same Floyd track, Culture Club lifted the iconic vocal (and then treated it) for the track The War Song (around two minutes in).